France is asking again ambassadors to the US and Australia to protest the submarine deal
French President Emmanuel Macron attends a press conference with the Latvian Prime Minister (unseen) after their meeting on Jan.
GINTS IVUSKANS | AFP via Getty Images
WASHINGTON – France, still angry at the submarine deal Australia made with the United States and the United Kingdom, has called back its ambassadors from the US and Australia.
France’s foreign minister said Friday the country had dismissed the ambassadors immediately in protest of a trilateral security agreement that included nuclear submarines for Australia.
“At the request of the President of the Republic, I have decided to immediately call our two ambassadors to the United States and Australia back to Paris for consultations,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.
“This extraordinary decision is justified by the extraordinary gravity of the September 15 announcements made by Australia and the United States.”
A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNBC that the Biden government had spoken to French counterparts about the recall of French ambassador to the United States, Philippe Etienne.
“Although we regret that they took this step, we will continue to work in the coming days to resolve our differences, as we have done on other points in our long alliance,” said the official.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden helped unveil the formation of a new partnership between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Australian Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and UK Boris Johnson virtually joined Biden to announce the partnership. The leaders said the security partnership will seek to strengthen stability in the Indo-Pacific region while China builds military power and influence.
The deal also partially ends a long-running submarine contract between Australia and France, replacing it with the new deal between Australia, the US and the UK
The US and UK agreed on Wednesday to assist Canberra in acquiring nuclear submarines, which will enable the Australian Navy to aid against Chinese nuclear ships in the region.
“It was a slap in the back. We had built a relationship of trust with Australia. This trust was betrayed,” said Le Drian on Thursday morning the radio station Franceinfo.
The latest development from Paris contributes to the consequences.
On Thursday, French officials in Washington canceled a gala on their sprawling grounds.
A French official confirmed that the event, which was scheduled to mark the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Cape, will no longer take place at the embassy in Washington on Friday evening.
“Other parts of the celebration are ongoing,” including a wreath-laying ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland, the official said. Two other events involving a French destroyer in Baltimore and a French submarine in Norfolk Harbor were not canceled.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Thursday that he and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had spoken to their French counterparts about the new security pact before the unveiling.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Austin spoke to his French counterpart again Friday morning.
“I’m not going to characterize the French side, of course, but it became clear from the discussion that there is still a lot to be done in terms of our defense relations with France,” said Kirby, adding that the two were discussing common challenges and interests.
– CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.